Tag Archives: margate

The Rickus Cocktail Bar/Restaurant – The new Cocktail Bar in town…

Pre-amble

So last time I wrote about a cocktail bar, it was a top notch bar up on the London Bridge promenade. This time it’s a newly opened bar down on the south east Kent coast; Rickus (near the old town in Margate)…

Now I don’t like to show bias, but in all honesty I’m fully behind this venture, owned, run & staffed by Lituanians (or so my sources tell me) this bar/restaurant, along with the new hotel right next door, has become the most recent addition to the Thanet coast rejuvenation project (albeit unofficially).

But onto the whole point of this post: THE COCKTAILS!

Now by the time I had the funds for a decent outing (you cannot just have one cocktail afterall!) the bar had been open for a few weeks and I’d had plenty of ‘word of mouth’ reviews:

“great cocktails, the ones with baileys in are amazing!” – My friend & co-worker Steph.

“we went last week and the cocktails are amazing value for money – the food was good too!” – My friend and co-worker Josh

So those were just a couple of the times they bragged on about this bar, and boy did they brag. So in typical Cocktail snobbery I set off for a taste test of my very own. Armed with the two above people (and Steph’s Daughter) I was determined to try a varied selection. I was looking for their methods, the choice of spirits, the spirits they used in the cocktails and of course the cocktails themselves. Shortly you’ll see I’ve given them a rating for both the cocktails and the service. The cocktails I tried were;

–          The Sea Devil,

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A great combination of cranberry, tequila and lime this cocktail was by far a nice surprise…

A fruity, but crisp, tequila based concoction which also used cranberry juice. The first cocktail of the evening; my thought process was to try something a little different and a little out of my comfort zone (I rarely drink tequila after all). This drink was made quickly, but properly and tasted great. There was just enough juice to cover the tequila’s unpleasant flavours (it was Sierra’s Blanco Tequila and we all know the kick I’m on about) but not so much that it was too watered down.

–          Peach Bellini (x2)

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Whilst your’s might not look like this, it will taste as good as it looks!

As the name suggests, this was a cocktail modelled on the classic bellini recipe, using peach liqueur as well as peach puree, giving the drink a little extra intensity. By far the most impressive on the menu, this cocktail cost £6 and boy do you get a lot for your money. Most places will offer you a champagne flute with peach puree and topped up to, about, the ¾ mark (if you’re lucky) with champagne. Rickus, however, supply a large (it was massive) wine shaped goblet and sure it’s not champagne they use, but the sparkling wine used was fantastic with the sweet peachy taste of both the liqueur and puree. Garnished with a physalis berry (which was slightly over-ripe and sour – they should be a little less sour and sweeter to taste – but that’s the snob in me coming out) and in the girls’ case a handful of strawberries this drink was by far their best offering.

–          Pina Colada

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Pina Colada, with a great view of the beach… Sure why not!

The last cocktail of the night was a classic, sure, but one many places can ruin very easily (which is ridiculous as it is an easy cocktail to make). I’m afraid to say that the use of a blender was lacking (which is a big shame as that’s half the point of making a pina colada) but that aside the drink was shaken enough to mix in the ingredients (well enough to be drinkable anyway!).

As for the reviews, I will now say a little about the service, followed by the cocktails and overall impressions…

The Service:

Waiting time: Overall the waiting time for our cocktails was more than sufficient, they were not too quick as to rush the preparation; equally they did not take too long (and ruin the dilution of the drink). They served the cocktails well and always the drinks were of a good quality. 10/10

Attention to detail: all the recipes they had to make were done from memory and were constantly cleaning and talking to each other. I got the impression it was an organised environment and they were wuick to help each other out (passing ingredients etc…). 9/10

Customer relations: Listened and understood our orders well, and were always happy to help. They were very fair and served us all in order (they kept track of their next customer well and I do not remember them making a mistake). At one point they did run out of limes, but were extremely pleasant and told customers this, stating a short wait was necessary. 10/10

Cocktail knowledge: They created all the cocktails we ordered from memory (if they were reading a menu the other side of the bar they hid it well) and supplied fast relatively efficient drinks (although some recipes could be improved). 8/10

The Cocktails:

Ingredients used:

The ingredients used where, for the most part, correct to the classic recipes. However in some cases they have changed them and tweaked certain other recipes (like using peach liqueur as well as peach juice in their Bellini or coconut syrup instead of milk in their Pina colada). Whilst some of their cocktails do suffer (see the Pina Colada review below) others prosper extensively (see the Bellini review below).

Quality of drinks:

Overall the cocktails at Rickus were surprising. Not being disrespectful but from a glance at the menu you just wouldn’t expect the quality to be as high as they were. Using syrups galore and tweaking recipes where required some of the cocktails do suffer (as said above) but the interesting point to make is that their bellini is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. The best thing I can suggest is for you to go there and try the cocktails for yourself…

Individual:

This section is all about the cocktails, and what I thought of them. An overall score will include these and where possible will look at the ingredients in the drink, the visual end product, the techniques used in the production and of course the taste…

Sea Devil: 8/10

Bellini: 8/10

Pina colada: 6/10

Overall impressions:

Menu: 3/10

The menu is a bunch of well printed (but unprotected) paper held together by the clamp on the clipboard they sit on. It’s a shame as they have not created a nice little unique menu. The menu is the first thing customers will really look at in a bar

Décor: 10/10

The Décor is something special: The medieval looking maps on the wall of both eastern Europe and the UK/Thanet are unique to say the least. The Décor is warm and welcoming, but if you fancy a cocktail outside their perfectly positioned balcony can offer stunning views of the sunset over the sandy Margate beach.

Cocktails: 7.3/10

Overall the cocktails are good, although some suffer from the lack of the proper techniques. However they do serve one of the best Bellini’s I’ve ever had and their choice of alcohol behind the bar is quite good considering its dainty size.

Service: 9.25/10

The service was fantastic; the bartenders are friendly, helpful and more than happy when you order off the menu. Their knowledge was good, making the cocktails ordered without the need for prompts and to top it off, they improvised well when some of the garnishes ran out, keeping up the professional look of the cocktails being served. Very impressed with the overall service and would definitely go back on this point alone.

Overall: 7.4/10

Rickus Cocktail Bar & Restaurant is a very welcome change of scenery to the excess of pubs and ‘gastro-pubs’ that keep popping up. The cocktails are extremely good value for money as well as a great atmosphere. Go with some good friends and it will be one of the better nights you could have. Friendly staff, great atmosphere, great value for money and when you leave the first thing you want to do is plan your next return-visit. A great addition to an otherwise bland seafront, Margate (as well as the Thanet area in general) could benefit from more ventures like this.

Verdict: Must see, try the Bellini’s, they’re something a bit special!

 

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Drinking out and about…

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I don’t get to go to many cocktail parties, shame really.

So if you hadn’t noticed, I write about cocktails, a lot. And I’ll be honest; I enjoy the odd cocktail in person too. Now I don’t get out and about very often (money is scarce these days) so when I get the chance to try out a few different bars I’ll jump in feet first. You may remember recently I posted a small review about some cocktails I tried at a Mexican themed restaurant, and how just above average they were. It’s not too surprising that their focus would be on the food first, and drinks second. This is the thought of most establishments that label themselves ‘bar/restaurant’ and it is a shame. I don’t know about you but there’s nothing I enjoy more than a cocktail made well. Sure sometimes you’re are less bothered and just want to enjoy any old alcoholic beverage (like when you’re at a house party for instance), but most of the time you just want to sit, chill and drink in style.

Now style is not a hard quality to provide when serving cocktails. In my opinion, the best way is to serve a good quality drink. Sure you have to make it look good, and know what you’re doing but none of that will matter if you get the drink wrong. Cocktails are all about flavour balancing and the best way to do that is to follow the recipes out there. I once read that a bartender should learn how to do the classic cocktails, and master them before attempting to create their own recipes. And even then the chance of creating a great unique drink is about 1 in 100.

This is not to say that you cannot be a little inventive, as an avid enthusiast I often try mixing random things up (excuse the pun) and although there are a lot of drinks that I shall not be making again, there are more than a few that were rather nice, in fact one of the favourite and most asked after cocktails at the events I’ve done was my very own recipe. But what I’m trying to say is, you cannot dive straight in and think you know everything. Sure I may know how to make a good Cosmo, or even one of the best Mojito’s you’ve ever tasted (these are comments from people I’ve served, not my own words) but I feel no shame in admitting I cannot make a very good old fashioned, as I don’t really like Bourbon/Scotch/Whisky and therefore find it hard to judge what tastes right and what doesn’t. But with practice I know I’ll get it (practice makes perfect after all).

So back to the point: Cocktails in most places in my local area are often thought of as secondary to food, or just there to draw in people (a sort of publicity stunt – most common in clubs around here). This annoys me slightly as I find it hard to see where I could go for a nice Mojito, or even a chilled Rum cobbler. I resort to making my own and therefore not going out much. However, recently a couple of new establishments are due to open in my local area: 1) a hotel (with a bar serving cocktails) and 2) a restaurant & cocktail bar. Now the pure fact that the latter has ‘cocktail bar’ in its title gets my hopes up a little. So after enquiring next week as to whether they need an extra hand (yes I want a bar job) I’ll settle down with a friend or two and try out a few of their menu cocktails.

Obviously they may suffer the same problem as the Mexican restaurant I went to, but then again they may concentrate on cocktails quite a lot, especially as not many other establishments in the area offer quality cocktails full stop.

Obviously you can look forward to the reviews of those cocktails tried, most likely next month (mid-end July).

As I was saying at the beginning of this post I don’t get to go out and enjoy cocktails as often as I’d like to, but this Tuesday coming (25th) I’ll be heading up to London Bridge and attending a little event by the name of a ‘Cointreau Fizz Garden’ at the Skyroom (5th floor, Magdalen House).

This is something I am very much looking forward to, along with a few of the many bars in the area. The chance to test out a few different cocktails made by people in some of the top bars in London is not something I’ll pass up anytime soon!

So again you can look forward to me keeping you updated about that over the next couple of weeks (including pictures of course).

Until then I shall continue updating you on cocktails made, events I go to, recipes I like and of course the odd 3 course cocktail & product focus if I have any!

Thanks for everything so far guys, all the reading, sharing and general interest. This blog has grown quicker than I thought and the fact it is still growing makes me extremely proud.

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The Joy of Jazz & Cocktails is lost in my area…

As a last little note, I’d like to put a little something out there:

This blog is all about helping people understand cocktails, whether it’s through sharing recipes, my thoughts, places I visit, great websites/products or just general facts about cocktails. This is something I want to continue, but to help me give you post’s you want to read, tell me below in the comments section what it is you’d like to know about, what recipes you like and/or want to hear about. This way not only will you have something good to read but I expand my learning and understanding of a subject very close to my heart J

Goodbye for the time being, and thank you again!

Dan, AKA: The Fervent Shaker

P.S. Look out for some video updates on my YouTube channel (see the link on my home page), as well as the odd video posts as well as some appearances from yours truly: That’s right I’m looking to show you, in person, how to make your favourite cocktails!

P.P.S. Look I have a bottle of rum!

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A glorious Cuba Libre… Havana Club 7YO, Lime and Cola.

A Secret Soiree in Margate Old Town…

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A busy day at Margate Beach

Margate is a wonderfully quaint little seaside town on the eastern tip of Kent (a county in the UK – for all you non-UK readers) but for those of you who are not acquainted with this sometimes lovely little town here are a few photos, in the form of a Google search…

https://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=margate,+kent,+uk&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.43148975,d.d2k&biw=1366&bih=643&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=gIIzUbHVJq2a1AWc_oHwDA

Once you’ve seen some of those pictures, imagine this:

                Walking along the Margate sea-front, box of cocktail equipment in hand, leftover tequila, white rum and even a bottle of Prosecco (which remained un-opened in the end) all included, I meander along the path, to be pleasantly surprised by my friend Dan (no relation) who was waiting for me after picking up a small mountain of ice for the Soiree. We both walked back to his house and as we walked in we were both met with a chorus of ‘Woos’ and ‘Dan!’ all from one of the other co-hosts excited to see the cocktail prep could begin. Now I would like to make it clear that at this point, it was around 5-5.30pm and the Soiree did not really get going until around 7-8pm.

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Like walking into a literal time machine, this part of Margate almost feels magical…

After the disappointment of the poorly organised wine and wisdom night (https://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/wine-wisdom-cocktails-slight-distraction/), I had been looking forward to this event purely because I knew it had been planned well. I know the hosts well enough to expect an exceptionally well organised night both for me and the cocktail serving but also to maximise the enjoyment of the 40+ attendees.

Before I can do any prep work, I’m shown around the house. First up the main room; where I would be set up. This room also included interactive music, determined by the people in the room at the time (allowing for more personalisation of the evening for the guests – a great idea that really worked well). Then I was taken into the two-tier ‘rave’ cellar and considering it was just 2 brick built rooms the last time I saw it, the neon lights, fairy lights and luminous paint (along with the slightly later addition of strobes and lasers) made this the very club-vibe up beat part of the event.

This two level club-like look really worked and considering the 40+ people attending, was also necessary!

Onwards to the cocktails now:

I started prepping the cocktails and the ingredients needed from around 6pm. This included washing anything I hadn’t done at home, laying out my equipment (knives, strainers, shakers, jiggers etc.) and then of course the softening & cutting of the limes. The alcohol was kept in a make shift bar, an emptied bookcase worked surprisingly well, combined with a large unused table provided me with a sturdy work surface. With people not turning up (generally) until around 7-8pm I offered to make a few test cocktails for the hosts and the music suppliers.

Cocktails tried included the dark n stormy, sex on the beach and (because of a lack of gin/lemon juice) I also served up a tweaked version of the Long Island Iced-Tea (see below [cocktail no.9] for the recipe). This helped me ease into a sense of security and when people started actually turning up I was in my element. For all intents and purposes I had my own bar for the night. Working cleanly and efficiently (and under a great deal of pressure from almost all of the guests at one point) the cocktails started flying of the shelf (quite literally).

I had written the recipes down in one of my handy little notebooks and this allowed people to read what cocktails were available. This not only freed me up to concentrate on the cocktail making process, but also allowed the guests to have a good look at the ingredients and the name of the cocktails, helping them understand what was in each one. This was a little Idea I thought I’d try that also seemed to ease up some time for me to concentrate on the cocktails.

I had planned on serving 8 different cocktails, with a varying amount of flavours and tastes (sweet, sour, dry etc.). These cocktails were a combination of tried and tested recipes along with recipes that I knew would be well received and then one of my own (purely to see if was as well received as it was at the Shindig South of the Border – https://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/the-songwriters-shindig-south-of-the-border/).

These cocktail were as follows:

1)      Dark ‘n’ Stormy

2)      Harvey Wallbanger

3)      Mojito

4)      Sex on the Beach

5)      Hawaiian Bay Breeze

6)      Tequila Sunrise

7)      White Russian

8)      Sonoran Iced-Tea

And the addition of:

9)      My tweaked Long Island Iced-Tea.

These cocktails, as you can see, are a combination of classic and contemporary recipes with a little variance in the themes. The mojitos are light and refreshing, whereas the white Russian is a creamier coffee flavoured cocktail. Whilst the Hawaiian Bay Breeze and Sex on the beach are similar in their ingredients, the simple addition/replacement of the ingredients drastically transforms the flavours…

Overall I feel this collection best suited the night and the guests that attended where full of compliments of every recipe. In hindsight the only changes would probably have been the removal of both the Tequila Sunrise and Hawaiian Bay Breeze. These would be changed purely because of a) the tequila sunrise didn’t work with the small opaque plastic cups and b) the Hawaiian bay breeze was too similar to the sex on the beach for the guests to order. Looking at the recipes available with the ingredients purchased the best move may have been to use some more Mexican themed cocktails (tequila and pineapple juice based recipes may have been a good call) to balance the collection out a little.

That put to one side, the overall feedback was good and everyone kept complimenting me on my cocktails, which is a fantastic confidence boost – as I knew pretty much nobody there, and the people I did know had not really seen me in action.

The event as a whole didn’t just benefit me from a networking point of view in that my confidence with serving quality cocktails is improving all the time. The cocktails served were not only great tasting, but well made, and that is great feedback to have.  

As a further more personal note, having cocktails at an event like this, in the way it was done at this event, supplies your guests with a focal point outside of the norm. This can become a conversation topic as well as a general form of interactive entertainment.

 

Now onto the real bread and butter of this post: The Cocktails…

As previously stated the cocktails are a combination of all different flavours. These are not necessarily themed but do share a general Caribbean trend (light fruity juice mixed drinks)

Dark ‘n’ Stormy

1 measure Dark Rum (I used White Rum)

5 measures Jamaican Ginger Beer

I used Sainsbury’s white rum for this cocktail as dark rum is generally hard to find at a reasonable price these days. The only thing the dark rum will give you over the white rum is a larger depth of flavour, but if you use a higher quality rum (let’s use Havana Club 3yo for example) then the flavour depth is automatically quite deep, negating the need for dark rum specifically.

Top Tip: when on a low budget always try to accommodate the supermarket brands, you’ll find that the quality is just as good as some of the more ‘famous’ brands especially when mixing in cocktails…

Harvey Wallbanger

1 measure Vodka

1 measure Galliano

4 measures Fresh Smooth Orange Juice

This cocktail is a classic version of a classic recipe. It was not tweaked in any way and I think this is by far the best way to serve it. If you do not like the vanilla then you can cut it out, but then it becomes a simple Screwdriver. Either way enjoy this cocktail over ice.

Top Tip: this drink is better built in the glass over ice than shaken. You want to create a layered feel to the flavours and shaking the ingredients works against this…

Classic Mojito

60ml White Rum

15ml Sugar Syrup

8-10 fresh mint leaves

1 ½ lime in ¼’s

Top up Soda water/Lemonade

Build the ingredients in the glass you serve it in. Start with the lime and sugar syrup and muddle well, then add the mint and gently muddle. Add the crushed ice and the rum. Top up with lemonade and garnish with a mint sprig.

This cocktail is a classic recipe ONLY when the soda water is used. However my recipe calls for lemonade purely because I have not found a soda water mojito that I like. And I am more comfortable making this slightly sweeter version. This drink is meant to be refreshing so you must use fresh mint leaves. This cocktail just does not work with dried mint at all.

Top Tip: Just before you put the mint leaves in the drink, place them in the palm of one hand, and clap your hands 1-2 times. This releases the oils from the leaves without making the drink bitter.

Sex on the Beach

1 measure Vodka

1 measure Peach Schnapps

2 measure Cranberry Juice

2 measures fresh smooth Orange Juice.

Another built drink. This drink is all about depth in flavour and the best way to do this is to loosely layer the ingredients as you make the drink (over ice of course).

Top Tip: if your guests are planning on drinking this cocktail quickly (or if it’s served in small amounts) then stir gently before serving so they get all the appropriate flavours.

Hawaiian Bay Breeze

1 measure Vodka

1.5 measures Cranberry juice

1.5 measures Pineapple juice

This cocktail can be served either built or shaken. Either way the pineapple adds some Caribbean flavour to an already fruity cocktail. The cranberry and pineapple work perfectly to create an almost punch like feel to this drink.

Top tip: if shaking, double strain the cocktail as you pour it into the glass, taking out the unnecessary foam (from shaking the pineapple).

Tequila Sunrise

1 measure Silver Tequila

4 measures Fresh smooth Orange juice

½ measure Grenadine Syrup

This drink is as simple as it sounds. Build it over ice with the grenadine being dropped from about 1cm above the glass. The grenadine syrup will sink to the bottom and gradually work its way up the cocktail as you drink it. The idea being that the more you drink it, the stronger/sweeter it gets.

Top tip: if you want a bit more culture in your tequila sunrise try using a quality Gold Tequila to add some depth. Jose Cuervo Reposado Gold Tequila is a good shout, but any quality gold tequila will do.

White Russian

1 measure vodka

1 measure coffee liqueur

2 measures Single Cream

This cocktail is a tricky cocktail to make. It may look like it is going wrong but just persist and as long as the cream doesn’t curdle it will be perfect…

Build it over ice and stir before serving…

Top tip: I used my preferred coffee liqueur on this, and the best thing about using coffee liqueur with cream is that you really can be flexible. Try it with Kahlua, but Tia Maria and Soiree coffee liqueur work just as well.

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Sonora is a beutiful part of mexico, and This sunset encapsulates everything The Sonoran Iced Tea represents… A Refreshingly different slice of Mexican culture…

The Sonoran Iced-Tea

1 measure Kahlua (coffee liqueur)

1 measure Disaronno Amaretto

½ measure Silver Tequila

Garnish: ½ measure freshly squeezed lime juice

Top up with cranberry juice.

I have both built and shaken this drink, for the best blend I find shaking makes it lighter and negates the need for ice in the glass, whereas building it requires crushed ice. But please find the best way that suits your taste.

At this event I served the lime juice as a garnish (adding just after pouring into the glass/cup). Shaking the rest of the ingredients negates the need for ice and also saves time as you can serve it straight away.

Top tip: you can add the lime juice to the drink and shake or pour it in at the end; I just prefer the crisp lime flavour at the beginning. Please feel free to experiment and find the way that best suits you.

Bonus cocktail recipe:

My forced-tweaked version of the Long Island Iced-Tea

1 measure vodka

1 measure rum

1 measure silver tequila

1.5 measures fresh lime juice

2 measures sugar syrup

Dash of amaretto

Top up with Coca Cola (original not diet)

This drink was born out of a lack of gin, triple sec and lemon juice. It was not one of my planned cocktails but I was challenged by one of the guests to make up what I could with what I had, using the L.I.I.T. as a base. It was rather sweet and as far as I’m concerned it worked. The guest was happy and it spread like wildfire throughout the event, becoming better than most of the cocktails on the menu.